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Penn State Football’s Top 10 Players of 2018: #2 Ryan Bates

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Today we continue our annual top ten preseason football players of 2018 list as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ abilities, value to the team and past performance, among other factors. 

NCAA Football: Penn State at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Incredibly, an offensive lineman occupies BSD’s penultimate spot in the countdown.

#9 QB Tommy Stevens (tie)

#9 DE Ryan Buchholz (tie)

#8 DT Kevin Givens

#7 OL Connor McGovern

#6 DE Shareef Miller

#5 Miles Sanders

#4 John Reid

#3 Juwan Johnson

#2 Ryan Bates, who puts on his big boy pads each Saturday.

How We Got Here

Number 52 popped onto the scene in early 2016 as a redshirt freshman, splitting reps at left guard with...//double-checks notes...Wendy Laurent, in the home opener vs Kent State. He finished 2016 as the starting left tackle on a Big Ten Championship squad, and a “no-help-needed” cornerstone to an offense that averaged 490 yards and 45.5 points per game over its final nine contests.

Watch the arm chop (below) on now-NFL-millionaire Vince Biegel. It’s a good one.

All of that positive film wasn’t enough to garner even an Honorable Mention from either “Coaches” or Media in the post-2016-season All-B1G teams. Of course, that’s not how sprots-writing works. In sprots-writing, someone who actually pays attention to the games must first must point out the obvious to you, the sprots-writer. Only then can you, the sprots-writer, claim the insight as your own.

Consequently, despite surrendering more sacks, getting dinged for a few more penalties, and missing some time due to injury in 2017, big number 52 actually made the “2017 All-B1G” third team. (Now that is sprots-writing at its finest.)

But man - that arm chop at 0:17 seconds, huh? It’s (still) a good one.

What To Expect

Expect a whole lot, frankly. Bates’ path stages to the classic A + B = STUD career progression. To wit: A) The young, unknown OL lays down a bunch of incredible film in year one. B) The rest of the league (excepting sprots-writers) notices, dissects his game, and lands a few clean punches on him in year two. STUD) And now, as a veteran leader who has experienced all the league has to offer - from 1st round talents like Nick Bosa jumping the snap in a deafening Horseshoe, to lazy Noon ET kickoffs against over-matched cellar-dwellers who play in a (figurative) funeral home - Ryan Bates stands ready to make his mark at PSU, and propel himself onto the NFL scouting boards. Year three should be a tour of vengeance, filled with ulna-fracturing arm chops, and knee-buckling kidney punches.

If a new offensive coordinator could ask for anything, a “no worries” blocker on the edge is near the top of the list. For the BSD staff, that’s #52 in blue-and-white, Ryan Bates - your penultimate PSU player of 2018.